Craig Thomson (politician)
|Member of the Australian Parliament|
24 November 2007 – 7 September 2013
|Preceded by||Ken Ticehurst|
|Succeeded by||Karen McNamara|
Craig Robert Thomson
31 July 1964
Wellington, New Zealand
|Political party||Independent (2012–2013)|
Zoe Arnold (m. 2011)
|Alma mater||University of New South Wales|
Craig Robert Thomson (born 31 July 1964 in Wellington, New Zealand) is an Australian former trade union official and a former politician implicated in the Health Services Union expenses affair. On 15 December 2014 Thomson was found guilty in the County Court of Victoria of thirteen charges of theft, and later convicted and fined A$25,000. Other charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception were dismissed on appeal.
His conviction followed an appeal against a conviction and sentence in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 25 March 2014 when Thomson was found guilty of 65 charges of fraud and theft for using Health Services Union funds for personal benefit; and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment, with nine months suspended over two years. Thomson was initially released on bail; and the conviction and sentence subsequently overturned on appeal.
Thomson was the national secretary of the Health Services Union from 2002 until the 2007 federal election when he was elected to the House of Representatives as member for the Division of Dobell, New South Wales, for the Australian Labor Party. In April 2012 he announced his intention to sit on the crossbench as an independent member of parliament. Thomson lost his seat at the 2013 federal election.
In 2018, Thompson was struck off as a lawyer.
Early life and education
Thomson was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and raised in Bathurst, New South Wales. He was educated at the University of New South Wales, where he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He later completed a law degree at the University of Technology, Sydney.
Thomson started his career representing hospital and ambulance workers in New South Wales as an industrial officer for the Health and Research Employee Association (HREA). He became head of the HREA Industrial Department. He was subsequently elected to the position of Assistant Secretary. In 2002, Thomson was elected as the national secretary of the Health Services Union (HSU), a trade union with which the HREA had merged. During his term at the union it was rebranded as a united federal union and the state branches adopted similar names and logos.
Use of credit cards
Succeeding Thomson as general secretary of the HSU in January 2008, Kathy Jackson identified financial irregularities in the union's accounts and engaged external auditors to investigate. Reporting in May, the audit raised "concerns about evidence of misuse of union funds by Mr Thomson." In December, the union engaged tax specialists BDO Kendall to "conduct an investigation" over the alleged improper use of Thomson's union-issued corporate credit card. The Sydney Morning Herald revealed the allegations in April 2009; Thomson denied all wrongdoing and stated that an independent audit had not identified any inappropriate use of the card, noted that other people would have been able to incur charges on the account, and said the accusations had been fabricated by rivals within the HSU.
Fair Work Australia, the federal workplace relations tribunal, conducted a three-year investigation into improprieties in the use of union funds which was tabled in the Senate on 7 May 2012. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) commenced investigations, but Thomson said he was not one of the five people of interest. On 15 October 2012 Fair Work Australia launched civil proceedings against Thomson related to his use of HSU funds. Thomson stated that he would contest these charges.
On 24 October 2012 members of the NSW Police conducted a search of Thomson's residence and electorate office on the Central Coast. Eight officers loaded vehicles with computers and five large boxes of evidence. Thomson said the search was "routine" and "They took a couple of documents, I volunteered a couple of documents." Thomson was arrested at his Central Coast electorate office on 31 January 2013. He faced 173 fraud and theft charges relating to his time at the Health Services Union. NSW Police carried out the arrest warrant on the request of the Victoria Police. Thomson was granted bail and was required to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates Court in early February. Thomson denied the allegations, and said that he would be "vigorously defending these charges."
On 18 February 2014, Thomson was found guilty of defrauding the HSU. Thomson returned to court for a plea hearing on his sentence on 18 March. He also faced civil proceedings to repay $28,000 stolen from the HSU; and the Fair Work Commissioner considered commencing civil proceedings on matters where the magistrate dismissed the criminal charges.
On 25 March 2014, Thomson was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment with nine months suspended for two years. Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg said Thomson had shown "arrogance in the extreme", a "breach of trust of the highest order" in misusing members' funds and said Thomson had shown no remorse. The magistrate also said "Nothing has been put before me to suggest that these offences were committed for anything other than greed". Thomson was granted bail to appear in the Victorian County Court on 24 November to appeal both his conviction and sentence. On 15 December 2014, Thomson was found not guilty of 49 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception because of a prosecution error. Thomson was proven guilty of thirteen charges of theft, convicted, and fined A$25,000. In the plea hearing, and handing down the fine and conviction Judge Douglas said that: "Whether it's sex workers or a bottle of wine, it seems to me both of those are self-indulgent," and "It's none of my business that he used a sex worker but it's my business that he used other people's money." 
Until August 2011, Thomson was the Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics as well as a member of the Privileges Committee and the Petitions Committee. As chair of the economics committee Thomson oversaw inquiries into bank competition and a second report into productivity in Australia.
In December 2011, The Sydney Morning Herald alleged that Thomson had plagiarised internet sources, including Wikipedia, when tabling a report to parliament after an overseas trip. The report in question was unsigned and undated in its cover letter.
Impact of the Health Services Union expenses affair
While serving as Member for Dobell, he was investigated by Fair Work Australia for nearly four years over allegations that he used his Health Services Union credit card for improper purposes, commonly referred to as the Health Services Union expenses affair. In April 2012 Thomson asked to be suspended from the Labor Party after a discussion with the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and announced his intention to sit on the crossbench as an independent member of parliament. In a statement to the House on 21 May 2012, Thomson professed his innocence and used parliamentary privilege to name a number of individuals and claim that he was set up.
Following criminal proceedings where Thomson was found guilty of theft and fraud charges, the Federal Parliament voted in favour of a motion of "regret" and apologised to the individuals named in Thomson's statement to the House on 21 May 2012. The matter was also referred to Parliament's Privileges Committee to investigate whether Thomson deliberately misled the House.
On 11 October 2016, Thomson applied to the Law Society of New South Wales for a practising certificate. The Law Society refused to grant a practising certificate on the basis of his criminal convictions and informed the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of NSW of that refusal. That led to an application by the Prothonotary to the Supreme Court for declarations that Thomson was not a fit and proper person to remain on the roll of lawyers, and that his name should be removed from the roll in NSW. The declarations sought were made by the Court on 17 October 2018.
Thomson has been married three times, first when employed as an industrial officer at HREA to Lyn Bos-Sharma, then to Christa, and then, on 21 January 2011, to Zoe Arnold, a radio newsreader and media advisor. The couple have two daughters, Matilda, born in July 2009, and, Adelaide, born in September 2011.
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- "I am not a person of interest: Thomson". AAP. 4 October 2012.
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- "Craig Thomson's full address to Parliament". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
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- "Dobell MP Craig Thomson concedes defeat as Liberals look set to win Dobell and Robertson". Central Coast Advocate.
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- "Former HSU officials Michael Williamson and Craig Thomson expelled from Labor Party". ABC News. Australia. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
- Mitchell, Georgina (10 May 2018). "Court bid to have Craig Thomson struck off over HSU expenses scandal". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
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- Barnes, Denice (26 January 2011). "Bells ring out for MP and his bride". Central Coast Express Advocate. Archived from the original on 14 March 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
- Farr, Malcolm (24 August 2011). "Crean, Turnbull to miss Olley memorial after Abbott demands Thomson debate". news.com.au.
- Barnes, Denice (5 August 2009). "Matilda waltzes into life of clearly besotted MP Craig Thomson". Central Coast Express Advocate.
- Philips, Jesse; Silmalias, Linda (21 August 2011). "Thomson's pregnant wife: My week was 'hideous'". The Sunday Telegraph.
- Lewis, Steve (13 October 2011). "Baby joy for HSU union rort accused MP Craig Thomson". Herald Sun.
- "Fair Work Australia Report into the National Branch of the Health Services Union, received by the Committee 7 May 2012" (PDF). (7396 KB)
|Parliament of Australia|
| Member for Dobell